12th May, 2023

Recurring thoughts

My head and I, we have a complicated relationship.

Sometimes, good things come out of it. It can produce decent code, decent enough at least that someone is willing to pay me enough money for it so I can make a living out of it. Sometimes texts and ideas come out of it that I like. Those are the times where we walk hand and hand an have a great time.
Other times, though, it feels like the dickhead wants to fuck me over. Those are the times when I’m trapped inside it, pondering over things, questioning everything. In these times, it feels like my head is my enemy.

I have a lot of thoughts over the course of the day. Everything I do is accompanied by a thought. This might be what is called “inner monologue”. People that also have it might be able to relate.
In case you don’t have it: If you watched the show “Scrubs”, it’s a lot like J.D. narrating everything that happens.
This inner monologue is not a problem per se. But it becomes one once it goes into repeat.

Having it go on repeat is exhausting. Often times, it leads to pondering over things, which is even more exhausting. It causes me not to be in the present, but either in the (or a theoretical) future or the past. Those are not good places to spend the majority of your thoughts on. Ultimately, it tends to drag me down.
So, there’s a new rule in my life: No recurring thoughts allowed.

That’s easy to say, but how do I make them go away? It sounds a lot like telling someone not to think of a pink elephant or telling people suffering from depression to “just be happy and smile more”.
Luckily, I found a rather simple solution for my problem: Writing the thoughts down. This works for a couple of reasons:
First, I don’t have to keep the thought in my head anymore because I know it’s written down somewhere and won’t get lost. If I can’t remember it later on, I know I have written it down in one of the places I write things down. It’s safe to let it go now.
Second, building more complex chains of thought is easier if some parts of it are written down and I don’t have to keep the whole thing in my head. Exploring different solutions to a problem is easier as well, as I can write one solution down and don’t have to keep it in my head, allowing me to fully focus on the next.

The length of what I have to write down depends on the type of thought.
Simple “tasks”, things I must not forget to do, just require a bullet point in my notebook. They’re the easiest to deal with.
Ideas might require a few more bullet points so I can make sense of them later an, when I come back to them and lost the mental context. Sometimes, I also draw something.
And then there’s the heavy, deep stuff. That’s usually also the stuff that is hard to spot in the first place, as it gets pushed far back into my mind and suppressed by a lot of escape mechanisms. They usually require long form text, some time and pain.
Knowing exactly how much to write is hard beforehand. Luckily, the feeling when I did enough is pretty obvious. So I keep writing until it’s there.

I hope this look into my head made sense to you. Learning how other peoples’ brains work is one of the most interesting things to me. So let me know if you struggle with similar things or if it is completely different for you.

© 2024 Chris Jarling